News Round UP: Week Ending 7/23/16


The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) on Tuesday granted a licence to the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) for Conec — the mobile wallet payment service that will allow delivery on a full commercial basis.

The JCCUL received the BOJ’s authorisation under the Guidelines for the Electronic Retail Payment Service to offer custodian account-based payment services to the public.

Heston Hutton, CEO of JaMobile — the JCCUL subsidiary which manages CONEC Mobile Wallet — said that Conec, which began with top-up services, balance enquiries and bill payment, now includes person-to-person cash transfers and merchant services.

These transactions fall within the agreed limits stipulated in the guidelines and are now available at approved agent locations.

The central bank’s approval in September 2013, for Phase 1 of the project allowed JCCUL to offer limited services to customers of the credit union movement. And, in August, 2014, the Central Bank issued an approval to the JCCUL for a Phase 2 pilot, which allowed for an extended suite of services to these customers.

Conec hosts major billing companies, including Jamaica Public Service, National Water Commission, and telecoms companies Flow and Digicel— allowing almost 20,000 subscribers a way to pay their bills.

Hutton said the license will allow the credit union movement that invested in the wallet’s development to begin over-the-top advertising and promotion of the suite of services.

At last report, around US$5 million had been invested in the mobile wallet roll-out between the JCCUL and technology partner Mozido. In accordance with BOJ regulations, users are allowed a wallet limit of $50,000 only if a valid identification and tax registration number (TRN) is provided.

Tier two allows wallet transaction limit of $100,000 where the subscriber requires a valid ID, TRN and proof of address. The final tier allows a wallet size of $150,000 where the subscriber can provide a valid ID, TRN, proof of address and proof of income.

Daily spending limits are different. Wallet users will have daily transaction limits of $15,000 for tier one; $40,000 for tier two, and $53,000 for tier three.

The JCCUL, in collaboration with its technology partner MOZIDO, launched the mobile money service to be carried by JaMobile.

The company is planning to partner with international remittance providers to enable Conec users to retrieve their remittance directly to their wallet without having to commute to a traditional brick and mortar remittance agent, at a fraction of the cost.



Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, says that although Jamaica is concerned about the number of Jamaicans visitors being rejected by Trinidad and Tobago, the country is heartened by some of the steps being taken to reduce tensions.

Senator Johnson Smith made the comment last Friday, as she responded to questions which had been raised at a previous sitting by the Leader of Opposition Business, Senator Mark Golding, on issues with Trinidad and Tobago.

She said that the list of cases of denial of entry between the two countries, show that there is a significantly higher rate of denials by Trinidad and Tobago.

“While only two nationals from Trinidad and Tobago were denied entry into Jamaica in 2015, one of whom was denied on a recommendation from the Ministry of Health, 320 Jamaica nationals were denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago in 2015,” she said.

She also noted that since 2016, already 230 Jamaicans were denied entry, up to June this year.

Senator Johnson Smith said that, based on information available from T& T’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16,826 Jamaican nationals were granted entry into that country in 2015. At the other end, Jamaica’s Passport and Citizenship Agency (PICA) granted entry to 12,875 Trinidadians during the same period.

She said that between January and March this year, there was a sharp increase in denials of Jamaicans at the relevant port of entry. But, they trended down between April and June, although they remained higher than the figure for 2015 over the same period.

She said that, if the current trend continued, the 2016 outcome could be about two percent, which would be below the 3-5 per cent which she had projected earlier this year, based on the level of denials at that time.

“We remain concerned about the comparatively high number of denials, and the treatment of Jamaican nationals at the relevant port of entry,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

“We are, however. heartened by some steps taken so far, and our bilateral consultations with Trinidad and Tobago therefore will continue, including a planned meeting with Prime Minister Rowley.



 Prime Minister Andrew Holness has mandated the newly installed board of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to make the creation of Jamaica’s third city a priority and part of its three core goals. This charge was given at the first meeting of the board held at the corporation’s head office in downtown Kingston, last Thursday.

In a release from the UDC, Holness was quoted as saying a new city would help to alleviate the urban overflow from Kingston and reduce the burden on the capital’s infrastructure. He noted that the establishment of a third city would support the Government’s objective of having two-thirds of the Jamaican population living in urban centers.

Holness urged the board to move forward with the transformation of Kingston into a city commensurate with international standards, as well as to support the development of Montego Bay as a part of three core development goals.

While plans for the renewal of Kingston are already in train, with particular focus on the downtown, waterfront and Port Royal areas, Holness expressed a desire for the waterfront to be “the driving force for all of Kingston.”

Noting that a policy decision had already been taken for Kingston to be restored as a port of call, he pressed home the importance of the city to thrive as a destination for lifestyle entertainment and as a centre for transshipment, investment, finance and welfare.

Giving consideration to elements, such as a national museum, parks and historical buildings, which would restore civic pride, Holness implored the UDC to “build something that projects Jamaica – where we are coming from, who we are and where we are going.”

Holness also spoke to the construction of a bypass to mitigate traffic congestion in Montego Bay. He said the resolution of housing inadequacies would also be prioritised in tandem with advancing the implementation of the Montego Bay redevelopment plan.



DR Constant Lonkeng Ngouana took office in Kingston Monday as the new resident representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Jamaica.

He replaces Dr Bert van Selm, who ended his assignment as resident representative and has returned to the IMF headquarters in Washington, DC.

“I look forward to working with the Government of Jamaica and its gracious people on this portion of their economic reform marathon, and also hope to watch up close the fastest sprinters on earth,” Dr Lonkeng said.

Since joining the IMF in 2010, Dr Lonkeng has worked in the African Department, the Institute for Capacity Development, and the Fiscal Affairs Department. In 2014/15 he was the fiscal economist on the IMF Jamaica team.

He has also participated in IMF technical assistance to Jamaica and Malaysia, as well as at the IMF-Singapore Training Institute. He was, until recently, the fiscal economist on the IMF Indonesia team, and his work in the fund has also covered other countries, including Germany and Japan.

Dr Lonkeng holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Yaounde I in Cameroon, a master’s degree in international economics and development from the Economics School of Louvain, Belgium, and a PhD in economics from the University of Montreal, Canada.

Before joining the IMF, he was a lecturer at the University of Montreal and had also served as statistician at the National Institute of Statistics of Cameroon.




Farm Up Jamaica Limited (FUJL) has been endorsed as one of the projects that will transform agriculture in Jamaica, by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson.

The non-profit project has been established by the Jamaican Diaspora to assist local farmers to cultivate organic food and increase the country’s food exports, while reducing the importation of inorganic and genetically modified foods.

Under the programme, members of the Diaspora will help farmers with inputs, such as land preparation, organic seeds and fertilizers, and teach them new techniques on how to eliminate pests without abusive use of chemicals.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry on Old Hope Road on July 19, Hutchinson said the increasing world demand for organic produce makes the project very timely.


He said the project will have a multiplier effect on the agricultural sector, as in addition to boosting organic farming it will provide jobs for many persons and identify markets for the produce.

The Minister commended the Diaspora for their contribution and commitment to the country’s development.

Executive Director of FUJL, Neil Curtis, said the project would address some of the structural gaps that have existed in the farming sector for years. He pointed out that it would help to build relationships to secure stable markets for the farmers to sell their produce, including retail markets and hotels.

“We are not working with one farmer; we have a ratio of 10 farmers to one hotel. This creates a back-up and a consistent supply to businesses, especially if one farmer’s yield is not ready or is insufficient,” Curtis said.

He explained that all activities in the project would be monitored by international volunteers and local affiliates to ensure that the crops are produced based on the outlined specifications and that they go to market as agreed.


Trinidad & Tobago

PRIME Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley has assured that all Caribbean nationals who visit the twin-island republic will be treated with respect.

He said that despite the negative perception, 97 per cent of every 100 persons that visit Trinidad and Tobago “come with no problem”.

“If there is three per cent that have some issues, those issues must and will be dealt with in a dignified manner [as] the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has required us to take steps to ensure that all our people crossing all our borders are treated with dignity,” he said.

Dr Rowley was speaking at the start of a bilateral meeting at the Office of the Jamaican Prime Minister on Monday.

The prime minister said that his country was also taking steps “to ensure that there is no situation where we can be justifiably accused of not being able to respond appropriately (to issues persons may have at the borders)”.

He argued that if there are arrivals which, for one reason or another, do not qualify for entry, “this is part of the process, and what we politicians need to do, is to ensure that our people understand the basis on which we can visit each other”.

He added: “We are sovereign states (that have) agreed to work within a grouping called Caricom. We do have some significant element of freedom of movement, but there are restrictions in there, and that qualification takes place at the border. So, it is likely from time to time that at our borders some of our citizens may not meet the requirements for entry and those requirements are very clear and it is for us to let our population know that.”

Prime Minister Rowley further pointed out that his country has taken steps to ensure that “the necessary training and sensitization is taking place at immigration”.

Turning to relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, Dr Rowley said there is nothing but brotherly love for the people of Jamaica, pointing out that there are “many tens and thousands of Jamaicans who are living comfortably, going in and out of Trinidad and Tobago”.

The prime minister further committed to working with Prime Minister Andrew Holness to strengthen relations between both countries.

“Our people ought to be able to look to us for clearing the pathway for easier movement, and for clearing the pathway for better investment opportunities,” he said.

The prime minister and his wife departed Jamaica on Thursday, after a four day official visit.


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